There is a thin, white film building on top of my tea. Is that right?
Yes! This is the beginning of your new kombucha mother growing at the surface. It should get thicker over the next few days. It is a sign that all is on track and you will be able to enjoy your own kombucha brew very soon.
My batch has been sitting for a while now and nothing happens. What’s wrong?
This could have several reasons. Is the room temperature at least 74 degrees? Anything below and the bacteria will go “to sleep”. If your ambient temperature is not high enough, try setting your jar on a heating pad of sorts like a seedling pad. Did you cover your jar with a paper towel? Closing the jar with an actual lid will stop the oxygen supply and your brew will slow down. Did you boil the water too long? When making the tea, make sure the water comes only to a boil and then turn it off right away. Prolonged cooking will release all the oxygen from the water. Your culture will not like it. Did you set your jar on top of your fridge? It seems like a smart choice since the top of the fridge is warm. But the vibration of the motor will actually interrupt the brewing process which happens mostly on the surface of the kombucha tea.
How do I know when it is fermented enough?
Smelling and tasting is the best way to find out. If your container has a spigot on the bottom, you can easily try it. The best way to sample your kombucha out of a jar with no spigot is to take a straw and slide it down the side between culture and glass, close the top of the straw with your finger tip to create a vacuum, and then draw it back up slowly. You’ll have enough kombucha in there to get an idea of the flavor and don’t disturb the culture in the process.
I’m going on vacation. How can I store my starter for a while?
Depending on how long you’ll be gone, you can either just make a new batch of tea before you leave and let it sit in room temperature. It might get too sour but you can discard it if you don’t like it (make sure to keep enough starter liquid for your new batch) or use it like vinegar for your culinary needs in dressings and soups. You can also store your starter in the appropriate amount of liquid in your refrigerator for a few weeks. The bacteria will go to sleep and once it is back out and in tea it will come back to life. The first method is to be preferred though.